Friday, February 19, 2010

What Haiti did right

Haiti. A country in which so much has gone wrong. Political unrest, desparate poverty, and human rights violations are more the rule than the exception. Most recently, the January earthquake pushed an already tenuous life to the breaking point. Between a hundred and two hundred thousand people perished. Those who survived were left without any way to meet the most basic human needs: food, clean drinking water, shelter, sanitation. In the wake of this tragedy, the world responded with an outpouring of aid and support.

Some Americans hastily went to Haiti to assist in rescue efforts. A group went to help orphans: to prepare a space for them and to bring them to a safe place. An admirable objective, no doubt. However, and this is where the lines blur, many of the children being brought to this safe space (in another country) were not, in fact, orphans. The "rescuers" lacked the appropriate papers and Haitian approval to execute their objective.

Haitian authorities and the Haitian government have, at best, been grossly neglegant on many occasions; at worst, they have committed atrocities. Whatever can be said of the Haitian authorities, though, in this situation they have acted appropriately. To arrest suspected human traffickers is nothing but right and proper. Whatever the intentions of these so-called "rescuers," and I do believe that many of them went with the best intentions, the fact is that there are an extreme few situations in which such actions are possibly justifiable. Furthermore, the uncertainty of the circumstances in which the children were to be brought exemplifies the inherant danger.

I certainly am no authority on human trafficking, but situations which foster or potentially feed into human trafficking should be annihilated as swiftly as possible. A life of extreme poverty is an atrocity but a life as a victim of human trafficking should absolutely never be a solution. Were we to allow any consideration of this possibility, we would be opening the door to an increasingly (if tacit) approval of a revitalized slave trade.

Whether it can be attributed to some inherant sense of justice (doubtful); the eyes of international community (increasingly likely); or even a more perverse concept that it is ok for us to wrong our own people but for an outsider to do it is not okay, the actions taken in this situation were (surprisingly) reasonable. I can only hope that the ringleaders of this disgusting scheme do not fall through the cracks and I do pray that our watchfulness continues, a vigilance to and awareness of human trafficking in all possible forms.

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